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Hush Hush

Keep your mouth shut about a new product you're developing, and you may gain the foothold you need to succeed.

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This story appears in the April 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Brian Sommer could have easily had his company written about in high-profile publications, lured world-class employees and set up meetings with deep-pocketed investors. Instead, the CEO of IQ4hire Inc. in Chicago flatly refused to answer reporters' questions for months, kept his job openings quiet and rebuffed venture capitalists who wanted to know what he was up to.

"Loose lips sink ships," Sommer says, explaining why he chose to operate his 40-person company in stealth mode for nearly six months. Specifically, Sommer feared that if word got out about his project to build an employment database to help large corporations find IT service providers, eager competitors would swarm in before sales got off the ground. Sommer also wanted to wait until he had the envisioned product perfected and patented.

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